I’d worked ridiculously hard to get into Cambridge University, and so when the guy handing out the orientation packets told me he couldn’t find mine, I had a moment of panic.
“Are you sure?” I asked, trying to keep my voice steady. “Can you look again?
The boy who’d been assigned the duty of handing out packets began thumbing through the stack again. He was older, probably a senior, with broad shoulders and the kind of smile that spoke of money. In other words, he looked like he belonged here.
Me, on the other hand?
Not so much.
Which is why I was trying to quell my pending panic attack.
What if this had all been a mistake? What if I had turned down Yale and Cornell and Princeton because Cambridge was supposed to be better than all of them and now my acceptance had been some sort of horrible admissions error? Or a joke someone had played on me, and now they were going to –
“Oh, here you are!” the orientation guy said happily. He plucked my packet out of the stack and handed it to me. “It was stuck to the one behind it.”
I went took a few steps away and started to open the packet, but he called after me.
“I’m Adam, by the way.”
“Lindsay,” I said, before remembering he obviously already knew that.
“Yeah,” he said. “I know.”
There was no one behind me in line, probably because it was starting to get late.
Orientation packet pick-up was from noon to four, but apparently everyone had decided to get there early, because it was close to three and there was no one around. Of course, there were lots of packets left, which led me to believe that either there were a lot of incoming freshman, or there were a lot of people who hadn’t picked up their packets.
So maybe I had it wrong, and I was actually one of the first ones. Maybe everyone cool was picking up their packets late, maybe they didn’t –
“Are you going to get your I.D. card now?” Adam asked.
I stared at him blankly.
“At the administration building?” He grinned. “You’re supposed to go and get your picture taken for your I.D. card.”
“Oh.” I swallowed. “Thanks. Um, yeah, I guess I am.”
“I can show you where it is.” He turned to one of the other students working nearby. “Hey, do you mind covering for me? I need to take someone to admin.”
Before I knew it, he was ushering me outside, like he’d just adopted me as his own personal freshman.
“Where are you from?” he asked as we walked down the sidewalk. A girl carrying a huge beanbag chair walked right between us, so it took me a second before I could answer.
“Ohio,” I said. “A little town outside of Cincinnati.”
He nodded, and I got the sense that he was actually listening, filing this information away for further reference.
“Spent much time in Boston?” he asked.
I shook my head no, hoping he wouldn’t ask me for specifics. The truth was, I’d never been to Boston before. I hadn’t even visited Cambridge University before I’d accepted their offer of enrollment. The thought made me a little nervous – that I’d committed to spending the next four years of my life at a school and a city that I’d never spent time in, but it was Cambridge University , after all.
They had the best pre-med program in the country. Not to mention Boston had some of the best hospitals in the entire world. Plus they offered me a fantastic financial aid package, and so even though I’d gotten into Princeton, Stanford, and Yale, I picked Cambridge University. It was harder to get into than all of the other Ivies, a fact they had splashed all over their website.
“You’ll love Boston,” Adam said. He chatted on about different things to do in the city, and I walked along beside him, happy just to listen.
When we got to the administration building, there was a line of students out the door.
“Thanks for walking me,” I said.
“Looks like you’re going to be